Did you know that gardening reduces stress and promotes health and wellness? For many reasons, gardening is a favorite stress management activity.
Benefits of Gardening
Gardening reduces stress through exposure to nature.
- Exposure to sunlight has been shown to increase serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is responsible for keeping our brain balanced and us feeling good. Not only does sunlight increase serotonin but it also increases melatonin, which is the chemical in our brains responsible for inducing sleep.
- Fresh air is full of oxygen and it provides health to the cells in our bodies. Fresh air can help us feel more energized and even help us sleep better at night. Being outside in the fresh air promotes a sense of well-being and good mental focus.
- Nature sounds like birds singing, waterfalls, bubbling brooks, rustling trees blowing in the wind all help to bring us into balance. The sounds found in nature help us to get outside of our heads and appreciate the earth and all it has to offer. These sounds help bring us into the present moment of the here and now.
Gardening reduces stress through mental focus & meditation
- Through deliberate mental focus and meditating on the actions of gardening, you are taking time to set aside your problems for a while. We all know it's healthy to take a break from our stressors and gardening provides that outlet for a lot of people.
Gardening reduces stress through personal creativity.
- When we are creative in gardening, we reap the benefits of the end result. Depending on what you are gardening will determine your reward. For example, a vegetable garden rewards us with vegetables...a flower garden rewards us with flowers...an herb garden rewards us with herbs. Whatever you sow, you will reap. This is an exciting and rewarding stress management activity.
Gardening Ideas for Stress Management
If you struggle with anxiety, panic or depression and love to garden, why not use your gardening skills to grow something that can also promote stress relief?
1. You could grow vegetables in your garden that are high in Calcium, Magnesium and B Vitamins. Vegetables like these include kale, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, sweet potatoes, cauliflower. Vegetables that are considered complex carbohydrates are also good, they are known for boosting serotonin, like squash, blackberries and potatoes. For more information try, Burpee : The Complete Vegetable & Herb Gardener : A Guide to Growing Your Garden Organically
2. Growing sunflowers for their seeds is also another way you can promote health and wellness with gardening. Not only is this fun but you can harvest the seeds for yourself and eat them. They are high in magnesium, which is important in helping your muscles release tension. It's also important to know that magnesium deficiency can also be the cause of your anxiety symptoms. Don't like sunflower seeds? Then grow them for the birds! Birds love to reap the harvest that sunflowers produce. David's Garden Seeds Sunflower Mammoth Grey Stripe Tall Single DHGSGA (Yellow) 50 Open Pollinated Seeds produce the most seeds I have seen in one flower!
3. Consider growing an herb garden! Fresh herbs are great for those who love to cook. There are also quite a few herbs today that are used for natural stress relief. Herbs like passion flower, lemon balm, St. John's Wort all have a place in helping to reduce stress and anxiety symptoms. For information on growing an herb garden, Your Backyard Herb Garden: A Gardener's Guide to Growing Over 50 Herbs Plus How to Use Them in Cooking, Crafts, Companion Planting and More comes highly recommended!
4. Certain flowers, plants and herbs are used for stress relief through aromatherapy. For example, lavender is known for helping to induce relaxation. You can find lavender in soaps, lotions, oils, and potpourri, just to name a few. Try tying up a bunch of fresh lavender with a little raffia and hanging it upside down in your home or better yet, learn to make your own aromatherapy products. It's amazing what you can do as you incorporate stress management activities into your life. Sometimes they turn into cherished hobbies that you can share with others. The book Lavender: How to Grow and Use the Fragrant Herb (Herbs (Stackpole Books) offers more detailed information on growing lavender and it's many uses.
5. Love butterflies and hummingbirds? Then why not grow a butterfly garden? Butterfly gardens are gardens that are full of plants and flowers that attract butterflies. The great thing about butterfly gardens is that many of the same flowers also attract hummingbirds. Lavender, Hibiscus, and Azaleas are all famous for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. There is a long list of other plants, flowers and shrubs that you can plant in your garden. It's all about what you love to do and your own creativity. Be sure to check out, Attracting Hummingbirds and Butterflies to Your Backyard : Watch Your Garden Come Alive With Beauty on the Wing , don't forget... these recommended books can also be found at your local library!
Gardening is not just for the outdoors!
If you live in an area that makes gardening outside virtually impossible, or if you are physically limited, consider growing an indoor garden. Gardens do not have to be big in order to be beneficial. There are many things you can grow indoors under the right lighting or even near a sunny window. They actually sell garden kits for indoors that include everything you need, including the proper lighting. These things are also great for those living in apartments and other small living quarters.
The Miracle-Gro AeroGarden Harvest with Gourmet Herb Seed Pod Kit, Black is a great place to start gardening indoors. Aerogarden makes many great products for indoor gardening, so be sure to check them out.